San Francisco AIDS Groups Set to Participate in U.N. Session on AIDS in June
AIDS activists in San Francisco are gearing up for the United Nations' special session on AIDS in New York City this June, hoping to score a "place at the table" during decision-making sessions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Members of ACT UP will "take to the streets" to "deman[d]" that the United Nations establish a fund to purchase anti-AIDS drugs in bulk for developing nations, a plan that would be similar to a UNICEF project that purchases malaria and polio vaccines for poorer countries. In addition, grassroots organizations plan to "figh[t]" efforts to limit developing nations such as Brazil from producing or importing cheaper generic versions of patented AIDS drugs.
Drug Access Action
The San Francisco Chronicle profiles a bill (S 463) introduced last month by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would "effectively prevent" the United States from "pressuring" nations that import or produce cheaper versions of anti-AIDS drugs, as long as the countries adhere to international treaties on intellectual property rights (Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/30). Under the bill, the United States "will not seek, through negotiation or otherwise, the revocation or revision of intellectual property or competition laws or policies that regulate pharmaceuticals or medical technologies used to treat HIV/AIDS or the most common opportunistic infections that accompany HIV/AIDS in any foreign country undergoing an HIV/AIDS-related public health crisis." The provisions of the bill would extend to nations with laws and policies that "promote access to the pharmaceuticals or medical technologies for affected populations" and those that "provide intellectual property protection consistent with" the TRIPs agreement. The bill also would "encourage" the World Health Organization and UNAIDS to conduct prevention and treatment efforts in foreign countries and calls on the two groups to "lead the international organization of the manufacture and distribution of pharmaceuticals or medical technologies for HIV/AIDS." In addition, the bill would require the FDA commissioner to work with the director of NIH to develop and maintain a database of HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals that would include information on patent status, recommended protocols, price and quality (S 463 text, 5/1). In the House, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has introduced a similar bill (HR 1185) titled the "Global Access to HIV/AIDS Medicines and Related Substances Act of 2001." This bill would "prohibit through negotiation or otherwise the revocation or revision of any intellectual property or competition law or policy of a developing country, including any sub-Saharan African country, that regulates HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals or medical technologies." The bill would apply to the countries meeting the same requirements listed in the Senate legislation (HR 1185 text, 5/1).